Onyx: Jennifer L. Armentrout

General Summary: The MIB (okay, DOD) is after Katy after Daemon has turned her into a weird hybrid alien/human with Xmen like powers. Will Katy learn how to control her powers before the DOD finds her?  And should she trust everyone around her?

Review:

I like these books.  Surprisingly.  I mean, there are a lot of similarities in these books to the Twilight Saga but it works here.  I think mainly because Armentrout knows how to create proper characters and actually has them deal with their problems (yeah, Katy could so kick Bella’s ass any day of the week).

I also think that the plot in this series is way more developed than the Twilight Saga could ever be.  By the time I finished this book, I am excited to be reading Opal (when it comes out).  It left me with so many questions.  Yeah, there were a lot of things about it that were cliche, but it was exciting to read and was a nice pick me up during study breaks.

I think this books biggest strength is its characters and romance.  Armentrout’s characters remind me of old school Meg Cabot characters.  The heroines are feisty.  The heros aren’t seductive just because they look pretty.  There’s actually witty banter here and they have to work at romance in their relationship.

 Remember, the good old days of Suze and Jess.  Well, Katy sort of reminds me of the book blogger version of them.

However, I did think that at times Katy was a bit of a damsel in distress and that Dameon still could go a little Edward Cullen on your ass at times.  But he’s improved dramatically or maybe it’s because I didn’t like Katy’s alternative love interest, Blake.

Blake. Oh, how should I describe Blake.  He’s just doesn’t work.  Even before the big reveal, I didn’t like this guy.  He’s everything I hate in a YA interest.  So, it really wasn’t that much of a love triangle for me at least.  The one good thing about him is that he does make a pretty good bad guy if obvious bad guy.  So yeah, I’ll give him that.

Best Feature: Daemon.  I really like Daemon in this installment.  He really grew on me.  He succeeds where lots of YA bad boy heros don’t.  Sure, he’s a douche, but unlike other YA heros he sort of grows up through the series and his a-holness is put into check a lot.  Sure, there’s moments I want to rip out his hair.  But as far as bad boy YA heros go, Daemon isn’t that bad at all.  Plus, I really like his nickname for Katy.  What do I say I like kittens.

Worst Feature: Honestly, this book was a bit predictable.  I figured out who was the bad guy pretty easily.  And like in many YA tradition there is a stereotypical love triangle that’s unnecessary.  In fact, the character of Blake just really didn’t do it for me.  Then again, most of the secondary love interests in these books don’t.  It really surprised me though because as much I originally didn’t want to I love Daemon.  Seriously, he’s slowly but surely working up the ranks in fictional hotties.

Appropriateness:  There’s some pretty hot and heavy making out in this book.  And there is some violence and mild cursing as well.  Definitely PG-13, but not graphic like Breaking Dawn by any means.

Blockbuster Worthy:Yes, I already said I’d love to see these books made into a movie.  To see casting picks click here.

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten onyxes.  I really liked this one.  Yeah, it was cliche at times.  But I think if you get anything out of the books it’s how to write a YA heroine.  Katy is a delight.  And Daemon isn’t that bad either (okay, I really like him a lot).  And seriously that cover model/trailer star needs a show on the CW stat.

Five YA Relationship Turn Offs (Can Apply to Any Romance Really)

Relationships in YA when done right it can be epic.  However, when done wrong, well, they can get me to want to bang my head against something and swear off relationships and make do where your biggest relationship is with your irate Beagles  (dealing with Beagles is surprisingly a lot easier than dealing with, well, people since all you have to do is feed them).  So here are my top five turn offs:

PJ imitating Edward Cullen or any other YA hero that likes to stare at you while you sleep.
 

5) He Watches You Sleep:



This was an unfortunate trend you can blame on Edward Cullen but has been embraced by many other YA boyfriends.  The good old I’m sneaking into your bedroom to watch you sleep.  To be blunt about it, it’s a cheap alternative to sex.  Where the couple chastely lies together.  GMAB.  You know what most teens would be doing if they snuck into their significant other’s room like that.  And quite honestly, I wish they were having sex.  Not because I’d really like to read sex scenes in YA, but because having a guy stare at you all night that just creeps me out sort of more than doing the nasty on your My Little Pony sheets.  I mean, at least that’s quasi normal.  But having Edward, Patch, Sam, or any other YA boyfriend stare at you all night long without making a move.  Watching you snore.  You really have to wonder.  Why?  Just why?  Besides, don’t you like your privacy.  I know, I’d like to get a little sleep without the guy I have a crush on seeing me drool before we get to third base.  But hey, that’s just me.



4) He Picks Out Your Clothes:



If a guy tells me I can’t go outside dressed the way I am, I expect that he’s my father and that I’m under the age of eighteen.  And no, I don’t want to date my father and I don’t want to be under the age of eighteen again.  So how is this a supposed turn on?  Besides, making me want to slug whoever says my t-shirt is too low or my shirt is too short.  Look, if you want to be the fashion police get your own show on E! (I’m talking to you, Travis Maddox).

 



3)He’s into Younger Women.  Really Young Women:



He might be a hundred, or a thousand years older than you.  But he’ll try to justify that by stating that you look the same age physically.  You know there are lots of humans  in their twenties or even thirties who still can pass of for a teen, but if they got in a sexual relationship with a sixteen-year-old it would still be illegal.  It’s called statutory rape and there are strict liability laws against it (at least in the United States). And I know there are some people who think we should repel them, all in the name of true love and all.  But really?  Are you saying a sixteen-year-old is mature enough to be making life effecting decisions and that a hundred year old can’t manipulate her into oh-say-ending her life to become a vampire or some other paranormal creature!?!?!?!  Plus, if you want to get really a visual representation of how gross this is look at Jacob Black and Renesmee Cullen from the Twilight Saga.  As much as you try to justify it, the boy is in love with a baby.  And don’t give me that crap that his feelings for her will only be sexual for her once she reaches maturity.  You know in the back of his mind what he is thinking and you know that the Cullens and him are going to brainwash the poor girl into thinking he’s her one true love.  The point is, these relationships just don’t work for me because when someone has years of maturity on a person they can use their naivety against them.



2) He Claims You’re Soul Mates:



And Santa Claus is real.  Sorry.  I’m sorry.  But if someone told me were soul mates, or long last lovers, or something like that I’d be laughing in their face.  Really this is just an excuse for a lazy author to pair two characters with very little build up.  The best part of romance in books, at least to me, is the build up.  I am a huge witty banter fan.  A fan of longing.  Of not admitting your feelings, but slowly realizing hey you feel in love with your hot video game playing friend.  Being told that handsome pretty boy is your instant soul mate doesn’t work for me.

 

 

1) He Tells You He Wants to Kill You:



Instead of a sign of romance, this should be a sign to run, run as fast as you can and get away.  I don’t get what’s sexy about a guy wanting to rip out your throat but somehow maintaining a perverse sense of control.  It really doesn’t make sense.  None at all.  But apparently publishers think it’s a major turn on.  For reals.  I don’t even understand.  To me this is a sure sign to get a restraining order.

Across the Universe: Beth Revis

I mainly checked this book out at my library because it’s a fairly popular book that I have not read.  Let’s see how my date with it went, shall we?
My feelings for this cover are sort of like the book.  Despite the God awful poses on the models, I really do like the way the background is in this cover.  It’s gorgeous.  Sort of upset they changed the overall “theme” of these covers.

General Summary: Amy is frozen for two hundred plus years as part of a colonization process that NASA has planned.  However, somehow, she is unexpectedly unfrozen and finds herself in a society that is unlike her own.

Review:

I liked this one which is suprising because I sort of avoided it because I thought I wouldn’t like it.   Let me explain, dystopias and me we don’t get along.  You probably noticed that in my Trend Spotlights entries on them.  Plus, the MC was frozen.  And that scares me.  It reminds me of Walt Disney and the legendary  Disney vault and that’s something I don’t need to think about.  However, I am glad I ended up reading this one even though it wasn’t exactly perfect.

 

I think the biggest strength this book had was it’s world building.  Which was so great because of it’s setup.  Imagine being stuck on a space ship frozen for over two hundred years, waking up to find society transformed.  That’s what happened to Amy and it was pretty cool to see what had changed on the ship.  Okay, so a lot of it was sort of predictable.  But I thought the set up was nice and creepy.

Now, usually I don’t like creepy books.  However, this sort of creepy vaguely reminded me of Brave New World.  Of course, this is nowhere near as good or disturbing as Aldous Huxley’s book was, but enough where I actually became interested in the society Revis created and wondered about their origins.

So, what went wrong?

Well, the characters weren’t very well fleshed out.  Elder is nice enough, I suppose.  But other than giving us pertinent information about this world and learning in a cliche way that his mentor was obviously insane, he’s not really that interesting.  In fact, some of the things he did were sort of creepy like Eldest.    As for Amy, she borderlines on stupid.  I wanted to like her and I sort of did, but some of the decisions that girl made……she better watch herself or she could have Bella Swan syndrome soon.

Besides the characters, there were some pretty disturbing scenes.  While a part of me was impressed that Revis would put such scenes in a YA book another part of me just shook my head sort of disgusted at what I was reading.  Do I think she should’ve had these scenes?   Yeah, I guess I do since they added to the world building but they still disturbed me.

Finally, my biggest pet peeve was probably with the pacing.  It took me awhile to get into this book and I felt like this disjointedness continued throughout the book.  Maybe it was because of the dual narration.

Despite these faults though, I still found myself oddly enjoying this one.

Best Feature: Set Up.  After reading Mothership and Obsidian, I’ve been wanting to read more YA novels set in space or about aliens.  So I really liked the fact that this novel was in space and that it tackled the subject of colonization.  I mean, you always hear on the news all the time about how astronauts are trying to build ships to travel to Mars or whatever.  This is a great What If and I liked the implications that occurred after being stuck on a spaceship for two hundred plus years.

Worst Feature: Slow start.  Honestly, it was really hard to get into this one.  It took a lot of patience and lack of reading material on a long commute home for me to get into it.  However, once I did I really got into it.  But not in the usual way you get into books.  I felt like with this book, it was more or less the possibilities I was interested in rather than the actual story.  Okay, that sounds weird.  I guess what I mean is I kept thinking about the social implications that could happen in the world that Revis created rather than wanting to turn the page.  Although, exciting things do happen in this book it’s not like page turning worthy excitement.  Most of the climax I sort of guessed.  Still there was enough of the world building that interested me that I’m planning on checking out the sequel at my library.

Appropriateness: Ugh.  The Season (a.k.a. a legitimate time to rape and impregnate) while it does give the book a creepy element, it’s hardly appropriate.  Also, there is a fair amount of violence in this book as well.  Definitely not for younger teens and tweens.

Seriously, there are dogs that are more civilized than the humans in this book.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure, why not.  I do like sci-fi.  And I think this might be an interesting adaption because of the weird dystopia world that was created on the ship.  So here’s who I’d cast.

Amy: Emma Stone.  Because she’s my go to Hollywood redhead for any character that has a semblance of a brain.  Though sometimes I honestly wonder about Amy.  Okay, Amy does annoy me lots.  But if anyone can make her better it’s Emma.

Elder: This is a tricky one Elder is suppose to be monoethnic, so I don’t think you’ll have a perfect looking Elder.  I sort of imagine him looking a bit like Taylor Lautner except hotter.

Overall Rating: I’m going to give this a six point five.  There were a lot, a lot of things that bothered me but I sort of found myself really liking this one.  I guess the best way to describe it would be going out on a date with a guy who totally isn’t your type but later you find out he’s a great kisser.  So much, that you can overlook the fact that he has a Dungeon and Dragons obsession.  And yeah, this book isn’t going to be for everyone.  I could see how you’d really like it or really hate it.  But for me, it was a nice surprise.  Or maybe I’ve just lowered my standards.

Five Things to be "Grateful" for in YA Lit

It’s Thanksgiving week.  Which means, that after I get through with my last class today I’ll be hunched over in my desk staying up all night trying to learn Oil and Gas and Patent Law.  Oh, and eating some turkey too.  So, in honor of this national holiday that may or may have no indirectly caused a class of people to develop smallpox and cause the European settlers to easily take over the good old USA, I decided to post a list of five things that I’m grateful for in YA Lit.

Interesting trivia that you’ll probably forget soon after reading this: Ben Franklin wanted the nation bird to be a turkey rather than a bald eagle.  I assume that he meant the wild turkey not the domesticated  bird that can barely walk that we slaughter each year so that people can have their roasted bird on the last Thursday in November.

5) World Building that Makes no Sense:

Sometimes it’s just good not to be able to understand these vast, complex, YA worlds.  Or if you are to understand them, it’s through info dump.  I just love a good info dump, don’t you?  Instead, of gradually experiencing a world, you get the jest of it right away.  It’s almost as good as getting no information at all, or for that matter information that contradicts itself.  God, you just have to love a little mystery.  Even if you never get any answers from it.  Balance is so plebeian.

4) Alexandra Adornetto and any Other Wannabe Stephenie Meyer:

Because one book about a seemingly normal girl (who’s really not that normal) that falls in love with an amazingly perfect guy who sparkles is not enough.  I have to say books like Halo and Fallen have helped me only so much with my post-Twilight Saga depression.  And then there’s all those wonderful P2P fan fictions that turned into real books.  And yeah, I know that a lot of them are adult or new adult (that just has to be my favorite new genre, ya’ll), but still Bella and Edward.  And then there’s that wonderful Fifty Shades of Grey which I know is an adult book, but it’s like the missing sex scenes from Breaking Dawn.  Finally, we know what happened on Isle Esme but it’s hotter of course.

Can you keep a secret?  I’m working on my own P2P Called Sinister Island where Bella and Edward find out that there are dinosaurs on Isle Esme and have to enlist the help of Jeff Goldblum and Indiana Jones.  Sure to be a hit, right?  Especially since I’ll be including some steamy sex scenes.  



3) Damsals in Distress:

Strong independent women are bitches.  That is a known fact.   I just want a man to rescue me just like Bella, Bethany,   Luce, or any other wonderful heroine.  Having goals in life is not important.  Having a man and a baby are.  And so what if you get married right after you graduate from high school.  It’s true love.  And true love is what’s important.  And getting your ass saved by someone everyday of the week that’s sort of hot.



2) Fun Parents:

Who wants parents who try to control your life by grounding you and setting out rules?  Who actually want to get to know you and are there for you?  Your man can do that.  Parents should just be…well, there so you can mooch off of them.  The best parents watch lots and lots of TV and never question their kid as long as they cook them something good, like Helen Hamilton’s dad.  Parents who actually have the gall to want to spend time with their kids or tell their daughter that they can’t see their paranormal boyfriend have serious issues.  Thank God, there aren’t many of them in YA.

1) Edward Cullen:

Edward Cullen is my dream man.  You know what, because of him and other too gorgeous to be real YA heros, I leave my window open at night hoping an over possessive, hot, bad boy comes in my room and claims me as his and starts controlling my life.  Heck, I’d even think about changing myself for him if that would make him happy.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in YA is that it’s not about you, it’s about your boyfriend and how to make him happy.  Oh, and if he leaves you or hurts you, it’s not because you’re making him unhappy.  No, it’s because he’s doing it to protect you (how sweet).

Top Five Ways to Know You Suck as a YA Parent

YA parents have a bad wrap with all their kids turning into vampires/finding out they have an unknown paranormal identity that their parents decided to keep from them.  But what are the biggest faux pas a YA parent can commit?  Well, let’s take a look at a few of them shall we:

5) You Have a Busy Career: 

 

Yeah, you might be doing your best being a single mom that works to hard…but hey, you’re hurting your YA child’s feelings and that’s more important.  Quit that high powered job that makes your child so moody so that they can tell you all about how their Edward Cullen wannabe doesn’t love them.  Never mind the fact that their deadbeat dad doesn’t give shit at them and doesn’t pay the child support.  You have to make your child happy which means being there to make cookies at all times of the day.  Money to pay the heating doesn’t matter when your child feels so lonely. If you don’t pay attention to them they may unleash a harmful computer worm that causes Armageddon like Pandora Walker in Doomed by Tracy Deebs.

4) Having a Social Life:



Parents shouldn’t have social lives.  Look what happened to Blythe Grey when she got involved with that nasty Hank Miller in Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.  She practically ruined poor Nora’s life all because she had a boyfriend.  Once you’re past the age of thirty and have a kid, forget about having a romantic life.  Your main objective should be listening to your teenager and well not getting involved with an axe murderer.

No wonder Mommy Porn is in now.  If they can’t have a real relationship because of their obnoxious YA brat then they have to get their romance somewhere even if it’s from bad fan fiction.

3) Keeping Your Child Away From Their One True Love:



Awful parents forbid their children to see their significant other.  That is just like the number one rule in the universe.  True love cannot be challenged and if it is, bad things happen.   Your kid will run away from home or do something drastic.  Like I don’t know, marry their vampire boyfriend.  You just don’t challenge true love.  Instead, accept your child’s relationship with their paranormal boyfriend.  It’s the easy thing to do.  If it gets too much for you, ESPN helps.

If only cable TV existed during the Elizabethan era.

2)Being Completely Oblivious to the Fact that a Paranormal Creature is After Your Kid:



Have you just met your child’s boyfriend?  Does he seem too good to be true?  He probably is.  In fact, he probably has a hairy secret.  And yeah, it might literally be hairy.  In fact, it might seem strange to you that after all these years, your daughter is finally falling in love with a boy.  After all, you and your husband might have been a little concerned seeing all those wolf pictures that she has hung in her room…but that’s another story for another day.

1) Your Child is Dating Edward Cullen (or one of his YA  various counterparts):



This is how you know if you truly suck as a YA parent.  The other things, forget them.  I don’t begrudge a YA parent for trying to support their family or having a social life, as long as they do take care of their kids.  Letting your kid date Edward Cullen or one of his various counterparts.  A lot of these parents don’t know how to put their foot down when it comes to these guys.  Sure, you could argue that Charlie Swan didn’t like Bella and Edward’s relationship.  But he didn’t really do anything to stop them.  Sure, he tried to pimp her out to Jacob but that’s not taking action.  Taking action would’ve been putting her in therapy after Edward dumped her ass in New Moon and shipping her off to Florida when he came back.  Instead, well, Charlie just wanted to watch the ball game on TV.

Parents of a YA character should invest in this*
 
*Note, taser guns might not work on paranormal creatures.

Ruby Red: Kerstin Gier

Blogging Notice: Entries might be sporadic from here till the middle of December since I am in the midst of studying for finals (barf).
 
For once a book that deserves to have a pretty cover.
 
 

General Summary: Gwen’s from a family of time travelers.  She never thought she had the time traveling gene until one day she travels into the past and finds that she has a whole destiny awaiting for her.

Review:

I really liked this one.

I’m glad to say that since I’ve been essentially in a book drought for awhile.  Okay, so I did sort of like Dark Star, but this is the first book in awhile that I really liked.  It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I would recommend this one without feeling bad about it.

Obviously, this is a time travel book and I felt the time travel elements were the strongest parts of this book.  Yes, the plot was a little predictable and reminded me a little bit of that old computer game, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, but I still enjoyed it.  And I feel like there are so many directions Gier could go with this one and I’m excited to read future installments.

The writing isn’t that bad either.  It’s not overly descriptive for the most part and I managed to get through it in less than a day-well, it might have helped that I got stuck in traffic on the commute to school-but hey, it still took me only a couple hours to get through this one.

I think the weakest thing about this book was the characterization  While I did like Gwen and I think she was an okay character, she seemed a little young.  The love interest also wasn’t that appealing to me.  While there is no instant love between these two, I just couldn’t help but think jerk when it came to the so called hero in this story.  He’s always putting down Gwen and the lack of buildup in the relationship made me it quasi instant love even though it was quite obvious he wasn’t head over heels in love with her (personally, I think he’s using her).

Best Feature: Time Travel.  I love time travel ever since I watched Back to the Future.  And I liked Gier’s whole concept of it.  The world building kept my interest and I am interested in reading the future books even though the twist in this book was a little predictable.

Worst Feature: Immature Narrator.  As much as I love Gwen, she reads a little younger than sixteen.  And admittedly at times it’s a little refreshing, but I really wish she was a little bit more mature.  I guess that’s why there are two more books in this trilogy so she can expand as a character.  But really I read YA to avoid the middle grade MC.  It’s not that I don’t like younger characters, I just…well, let’s face it when your in middle school you’re a little immature.  And the kissing can obviously go only so far without seeming gross.  And this includes characters like Gwen.  As much I love her, the girl is not ready for a serious relationship even though she’s sixteen.  Plus, I just wish she had a little bit more of a backbone.

Appropriateness: There’s some kissing, a couple of swear words are exchange, and some mild violence.  But it’s otherwise pretty clean.

Blockbuster Worthy: Yes, I think this one could be a cute movie.  I could see it going in two directions the first being a hopefully more darker film the second being a lite version of the book a la Disney.

Gwen: Sarah Hyland.  Yes, she’s not British, but I picture Gwen sort of looking like her.

Gideon: Ethan Peck.  Because that’s who I pictured in my head when reading the book.  Plus, he would make Gideon more tolerable.

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten rubies.  I liked this one.  I will definitely be checking out the next one. It’s not the best book in the world, but definitely worth while.

Dark Star: Bethany Frenette

I love superheroes.  It should be obvious to anyone reading this blog by now that my childhood pretty much consisted of watching lots of superhero shows that and reading really horrible YA books.   So, I was really excited about reading this book.  However, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting….

General Summary:  Audrey’s mom in the legendary superhero, Morning Star.  And for all her life, she’s been looking up at her.  However, Audrey soon finds out that her mother’s job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Review:

Talk about deceptive advertising.   Those expecting to get a superhero book will be surprised and maybe even disappointment.  Superheroes are only mentioned in this novel.  In reality, it’s just  YA paranormal.

And it’s not a bad YA paranormal.  In fact, I’d say it’s a little bit above average.  The characters are nice enough.  The use of cliches isn’t horrible.  It’s just not…well, that memorable or exciting.  And I did have quite a few problems with it.

The main character isn’t too bad.  I liked Audrey.  Sure, she was a little bland.  But I’ve read much worse.  And I do think with future installments she could be a pretty kick ass character.  However, even though she and I were okay I really didn’t like her friends and family.

Let’s talk about her mom.  For a superhero, she’s no Wonder Woman.  Sure, she can kick butt, but we only see her doing this once throughout the book.  Otherwise, she’s just the secretive mom who makes Batman’s parenting skills look good.  And for that matter  his people skills look good too.

She’s not likable.  And yeah, I get her backstory was sort of tragic, but…look lady, you knew your daughter was going to come into contact with demons eventually the least you could do is have her somewhat prepared and actually pay attention to her than that obnoxious sidekick of yours.
Oh yeah, she had an obnoxious sidekick who actually made Robin and any other annoying sidekick look good.  I don’t like Leon.  And yeah, I know he doesn’t fit in the typical awful love interest YA love interests cliches that annoy most people, but he’s still annoying.  He constantly talks down to Audrey and I really didn’t understand the attraction there.  Yeah. he’s hot…but really?!?!?!?!?!
 

Okay, so there was one scene where they got in a fight while making a cake which sort of showed the potential chemistry that these two had.  But I viewed this more as a fight than hidden sexual attraction.  He’s just obnoxious.  At least in my opinion.  To be honest, I’ve never been really a fan of acting like a jerk to hide your true feelings romance.  So maybe that’s why Leon bothered me…oh, and anytime I hear the name Leon I think of this.

In addition to Leon and her mother, I had problems with how some of the characters were developed. In the book, Audrey finds out that she has some long lost relatives.  Other than being used to facilitate parts of the story these characters serve no purpose other than making some pretty big plot holes exist in the story.
Yep, plot holes.  Not to give details away, but i couldn’t help that think that some of the characters were very stupid for not putting two and two together.  That and, well, often things were ignored that should’ve caused some emotional struggle for the plot to go on.
I will say this, when the plot moved it was exciting.  And so was the world building too.  Although, there were severe problems with said world building (see plot holes) I enjoyed it.  Yeah, I am still confused about how things work but it is an interesting enough concept.
I think the biggest thing about this one is that I expected more out of it.  And it just didn’t live up to that potential.  Audrey, for all intents and purposes, was an observer.  Sure, she sort of did something in the climax-sort of being the operative word.  But she’d make a pretty lousy superhero.  Though I guess I should say guardian since the whole superhero concept seems to be moot in this book.  However, I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting this out of Audrey in the next book.

Best Feature: No Golden Age Cheesiness.  One of the biggest issues with writing a superhero book, I think, is trying not to make it too cheesy.  Yes, I know the typical superhero medium is comics and comic books by their very nature are cheesy especially if you look at comics in the golden age, but in the modern era comics have grown increasingly sophisticated and in some cases dark.  It’s true there are still cheese inducing villains like  The Lizard or Mister Mxyzptlk, but even these characters have been modernized and have somewhat a sense of realism.  Okay, maybe not Mxyzptlk, but The Lizard has improved a lot since his initial appearance (at least in my humble opinion).  Anyway, back to the point, I was glad that this book didn’t indulge in that sort of comic cheesiness.  It was a pretty sleek realistic enough story.  However, there were no freaking superheroes in it.

Worst Feature: Ignored Bat Signal: This is not a superhero book, ya’ll.  It’s just a decent YA paranormal that uses the term superhero to sell.  This is very annoying.  And honestly if it wasn’t for the false advertising the book might have gotten another star.  I didn’t even know what the point was of using the word superhero in this book.  Batman would not be impressed (but hey, when is he ever).

Appropriateness: This one is pretty clean.  Some violence maybe a little cussing.  But we barely, just barely get to first base.  So that’s good clean fun, right?

Blockbuster Worthy: Maybe.  This would be another book where I guarantee you things would considerably change from the book to the big screen.  As long as it wasn’t like that abomination, Sky High, I’d be happy.

Audrey: Emma Watson.  Because if anyone can kick ass it’s her.  Though Audrey really doesn’t kick ass in this book.

Overall Rating: Six out of ten capes.  This wasn’t what I was expecting and in a way that was a good thing, but at the same time it was a little annoying.  It was interesting enough though and after reading some rather sour books in the genre as of late it was sort of refreshing.

The Demon Catchers of Milan: Kat Beyer

Despite my better efforts there are some books I just can’t finish.  This is one of them.

General Summary: After being possessed by a demon, Mia finds herself being packed up and sent with her long lost demon fighting relatives in Italy.

Review:

Sigh, I seem to be on a roll when it comes to dud books.  Every book I have checked out at the library the last time has seemed to be a stinker.  Grant it, I sort of liked Carnival of Souls if I looked past the whole breeding thing but whatever.  The Demon Catchers of Milan, alas was another disappointment.

This book has a fabulous premisis.  I had two thinks I loved 1) demon hunters and 2) Italy.  However, both of these concepts were shoved under the rug for what was a pretty boring story about a whiney teen who was stuck in her weird relatives apartment all day being forced to learn Italian.


Yep, that’s essentially all that happened in this novel.  Grant it, I only made it to the fifty percent mark but by that point you’d think things would be happening.  And the sad thing is the book had a pretty exciting beginning.  The parts where the main character was possessed confused me a little, but it was exciting.

After that though….

Well, it just didn’t move.  The plot was pretty stagnant.  Once Mia arrives in Italy she’s pretty much locked in her room.  Okay, so she goes out to eat and demon hunting like once in the 150 or so pages I got through, but both were fairly boring with large generalizations made about both Italians and Americans.  Yeah, demon hunting was boring.  I don’t know how Beyer made demon hunting boring, she just did.


I  guess I should’ve expected that though, given how cardboard like the characters were throughout the book.  The main character, Mia, I really didn’t get much from her other than that she was cooped up and had to learn Italian and sort of had a crush on her cousin (ewwwwww!).  As for her, relatives they were as stereotypical Italian as you can get.  As for Italy, well, we didn’t see it.  Milan is an interesting city with rich history, but instead of exploring this city what do we get Beginner Italian in a dreary bedroom.  Oh, and when she’s not learning Italian she’s expected to do house work (nice).


You know, I’m a little shock with Mia’s parents.  They just let her go to Italy with these relatives with very little convincing.  Yeah, I get she’s possessed.  But still.  She’s a teenager, she has school to finish, and these people they’re practically strangers why would you let your teenage girl go off with them and not even go home for Thanksgiving or whatever.

Best Feature: Interesting set up.  The premises seems interesting enough.  Give me demon fighters any day and if you add Italy it should be a hit, too bad it wasn’t.

Worst Feature: Nothing freaking happened.  I am an impatient person.  It’s not a good quality, I’ll be the first to admit it.  But when you have to read a lot of cases every day, you find you can’t stand well…boring reading material.  And this book was boring.  The beginning was interesting enough-confusing, but interesting.  But after that nothing happened.  And you know what, something should’ve happened.  This book took place in Italy.  That seemed like it would be exciting enough, but instead of hearing about Mia is exploring her new surrounding.  What do we get?  Her being cooped up at her relatives complaining about learning Italian.

Appropriateness: From what I read there wasn’t much cussing.  There was definietly some violence and I think Mia sort of had a crush on her cousin (I know.  Seriously, what’s with this love your relative trend stuff that Cassandra Clare started ).

Blockbuster Worthy: This would be one of those movies that would bore you to death.  And I really didn’t sense the characters so I’m not even going to attempt to cast.

Overall Rating: Three out of ten scoops of gelato.  This book had lots of potential.  Sadly, it did not live up to it.  And failed flat on its face.

Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: Black, White, and Red

Color.  It can do a lot of things.  Sometimes it can make or break a cover.  Also, a lot of the time a lack of cover can help a book look rather outstanding.  Some of the most striking covers in YA involve a cover that is devoid of most color a splash of red ) here and there might be used to elevate these covers to the next level.
What the Cover Tells Me: This cover really looks like a perfume add.  OTT to the max.  I could actually see this book being like  a time traveling romance where two characters a la Somewhere in Time, though I don’t know how that would explain the guy being shirtless.
What the Book Is Really About: It’s the finale to that cash cow series Hush Hush.  Nora and Patch’s love is now forbidden by their very being.  However, will they find someway of being together?  Or will Nora finally gain a brain and realize that being with Mr. J Patch isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Verdict: It’s a striking cover.  It’s irrelevant to the book and I hate the way the characters are posing, but I get it.  It  sells.
What the Cover Tells Me: Hades (a.k.a. Hayden Prince) never thought he would kidnap a fairy and take her into in the underworld.  But that’s what happened when he kidnapped popular girl, Perry O’Quinn.  He didn’t realize those were actual wings on her when he told her to jump on his bike.  And he didn’t think that she would totally destroy his gloom and doom castle by turning it into a pink palazzo palace.  Yet, despite the hot pink glitter paint there’s something strangely attractive about Perry.
What the Book Is Really About: This is where that idiot, Bethany, goes to hell.  That’s pretty much what the book is about.  And no, I know hell is not Hades.  Hades is the Greek god of the underworld.
Verdict: I don’t like this cover.  I really liked the cover to Halo, surprisingly, but this one just didn’t work.  Maybe it’s because that whole scene seemed like a bad SNL sketch.
What the Cover Tells Me: Ariel has been told never to touch a mirror.   However, one day she does and finds herself in the Mirror World.  Now trapped in glass Ariel can only hope that someone shatters her prison.
What the Book Is Really About: This girl name Juliette can kill people with her mere touch hmmm where have I seen that before (cough, X-Men, cough).  And somehow or another she finds herself at the center of a war.
Verdict: I like the mirror affect oddly enough.  Sure, I like the new covers a bit better (the fact that it doesn’t include the marshmallow like dress does wonders for it), but I do feel like the mirror affect really did wonders for this book.
What the Cover Tells Me: See the clip below to see what this cover tells me:
What the Book Is Really About: Obviously, it’s no Phantom of the Opera.  This book takes place in two worlds our world and a paranormal world where characters fight to the death to try to gain society notoriety.  Oh, and they breed.
Verdict: I love this cover.  It’s actually not embarrassing to carry this book in public.  I just think it really doesn’t fit the actual book.
What the Cover Tells Me:  The queen must be fed.  Dawn Christian knows that she will be sacrificed on feeding day.  A day where the town’s ruler the beautiful, Queen Adeline, takes in the souls of those who were born on the sacred day in order to live forever.  Dawn doesn’t want to die (obviously), but she has no chance for survival.  Or does she?  A beautiful but ever the cliche boy tells her that there’s a way to prevent herself from becoming queen Botox.  Will Dawn listen to him or succumb to her fate?
What the Book Is Really About: That idiot Bella Swan finally gets everything she wants, plus she gets to change diapers. Oh, and Jacob becomes a pervert.
Verdict: Honestly, this cover is probably one of my favorite covers in the Twilight Saga because it looks pretty freaking epic.  Argue all you want, but a the chess pieces signify (to me at least) that there is going to be some battle of wits going on in the book.  Obviously, there wasn’t.  Bella just ends up getting her way with very little consequences.  Oh, and we get the demon baby.  How could I forget about the demon baby….

Heaven: Alexandra Adornetto

I’ll admit it, I’m a curious person.  Which is why I finish a lot of crappy series.  I know, I know, if I don’t like a book I shouldn’t read its sequel.  But sometimes I can’t help myself.  Especially when it concerns the train wreck series better know as the Halo Trilogy by Alexandra Adornetto.

General Summary: So, we rejoin that idiot, Bethany Church, and her Huggle Wuggles (Xavier Woods) for their final adventure.  After marrying each other  being oblivious of the consequences, Bethie and Huggie Bear act shocked when they realize that they’re going to have to face consequences.  Meanwhile, everyone bends their ass to help Bethie and Huggles out.  But they act as ungrateful as ever.

Review:

Oh, dear lord.  Let’s just say I’m thankful that this is the last installment of this train wreck. I have lots to discuss and rant about so if you like positive and up beat reviews this is not the review for you.

I will say this though, this will be my first and last positive thing to say about this installment besides the fact that it’s over.  This was an improvement to Hades.  But how could it not be?  That being said, let’s get down to business.

1. Bethany Church is still the most shallow and undeveloped character ever:

I’m not joking.  There is no character development here.  The character never really accepts the fact that she’s a screw up and she still gets everything she wants.  Not to mention she’s a total self insert character for Adornetto.  You know what, I really don’t understand how anyone is suppose to identify with this character let alone like her.  She is so self centered, so self involved it’s ridiculous.  In the first chapter of the book she kills a guy. Indirectly.  But still she kills him and does she feel no remorse…no. Rather, she acts like this is all a big mistake on her part.

Look, she knew the consequences of marrying a human.  It’s been talked about time after time that  her relationship with Xavier was dangerous.  Why did she think marrying him was a good idea?  It just doesn’t make sense. In fact, in the human world if you indirectly caused the death of another in the course of another crime (and marrying a human is a crime in Bethany’s world) you could potentially be charged with felony murder which in Texas at least could get you the death penalty.  Furthermore, Father Mel isn’t even the only person she kills or injures.  Or for that matter there’s that crappy ending where she doesn’t think of her heavenly duty and….well, I just want to see her chatting with God when she dies.  I bet that’s going to be nice (evil laughs).  Honestly, I really think this series would’ve been better had Bethany become a fallen angel and repented.  Maybe came to realize that, hey, I’m not the only person that matters.  And try to make due with her new realty with no help from her super powerful friends.

2. Adorentto has never heard of the term pacing:

This book pacing is whacked.  The beginning takes place in a cabin.  And although, the reader gets a sense that Bethie and Xavier were only in the cabin for a few days, they were there for months.  Likewise, when they go to school the reader only feels like they were there for a few days and months have really gone by (despite the fact that the first football game just happened when they left school, that just really doesn’t make sense).  This really would’ve been a pretty easy fix on Adornetto’s part.  Just have some transitions showing that time has passed and if she wouldn’t have contradict herself every other page.

3. Adornetto has no idea of how college life is for the general masses:

Having attended college recently and attending law school right now, I can tell you that Adornetto does not give a realistic portrayal of how college in in the US.  Which is weird considering the fact that she’s a college student.

College, for of you who are ill informed, is not about partying or football.  It’s about getting your degree so that you can become a support yourself.  Sure, sororities, parties, and football might play a role in campus life.  But that isn’t the reason one goes to college.  Furthermore, mentioning that one is only there for a Mrs. Degree is stupid and archaic. Plus, most college students I know can’t afford an interior decorator or Lexis.

4. When writing about abusive relationships.  It is not wise to rely on Lifetime as your primary research source:



Abusive relationships are complex things.  Dumbing them down, making them one dimensional, and essentially blaming the victim isn’t going to make the storyline realistic or compelling.  Furthermore, adding in a almost as stereotypical religious cult isn’t going to help matters either.  Or for that matter, not giving this subplot any proper resolution.  The point is, if you’re going to do a subplot involving serious subject matter like domestic violence, do your homework.  And please for the love of love don’t victim bash.  I really do feel for the character, Molly, in this book.  She gets the brunt of Adornetto’s hate.  She’s always judged poorly just because…well, she’s not Bethany.  And her relationship with Gabriel is made trivial and condoned by Bethany when really, well, Bethany has just about as much to say about her relationship with Xavier.



5. When deciding to incorporate Christianity  into your novel it might be wise to actually check Wikipedia so that you don’t totally bastardize the religion:



Oh, deary me.  The lack of research that went on here concerning the Christian religion is pretty bad.  Even some things that are pretty simple, like Catholic marriage are mishandled.  Fact, the Catholic Church requires anyone who wants to be married in the church to take a marriage class.  Furthermore, it would’ve been impossible for these two dingbats to get married in the first place considering that most states require both parties to be there to get a valid marriage license.  Grant it, there are some exceptions.  But Bethie and Xavier meet none of those.





6. Being continuity  is important.  You can’t change your mind halfway through the story and expect readers to go with it.



There were constant problems when it came to continuity with this book.  It wasn’t just that details in the past book were fluffed over, but details in this book were forgotten mere moments after being mentioned.  For example, Gabriel loses his wings in this book and is supposedly Earth bond for several-hundreds of years-but he visits Bethany in heaven.  Furthermore, there are irrelevant plot twists that have no purpose.  Like, Xavier being a halfing (a.k.a. Captain Planet).  The point is, with these little inconstancies and irrelevant plot twists the novel almost felt like a first draft rather than the final version.





7. Just because you tell us your characters are star-crossed lovers doesn’t mean they are.



Xavier and Bethany are suppose to be soul mates.  We are told this all the time. But quite honestly, I don’t see it.  While Bethany can go on about his bottomless blue eyes and nut colored hair that doesn’t mean anything.  It’s their interactions that should show their love.  And I guess, there’s a sad attempt to do this when the two of them are stuck in a cabin together for days months, but the dialogue comes off very forced.  And quite honestly, I think Xavier got annoyed at Bethany.  Case in point, the baby name scene.

8. Don’t make your characters a supernatural creature unless they can actually do something.

I really don’t know what the point was having Bethany be a supernatural creature.  She doesn’t do anything.  Yes, she has wings and that makes her love to Xavier forbidden.  But other than that, she does nothing.  She can’t even defend herself against the Sevens.  While Xavier can because he’s…..

9. Telling your readers that a character is manly doesn’t make a character manly.  



In the previous books Adornetto used excessive nut similes.  In this installment she decided to do something different,  making sure that the reader knows just how manly Xavier is.  Um, no.  That doesn’t work.  In fact, I often thought Adornetto did this to reassure her characters that Xavier was a man.  Weird I know, considering he’s a fictional character but….

Furthermore, what was with all of the evil male characters in this book being described as effeminate.  Seriously?  Manly men can be evil too, you  know.  And it also has me wondering….no, I’m not going to go there.
10. Excessive descriptions are not your friends.

The purple prose is horrid.  I really wonder how Adornetto is fairing in school especially if she’s a Creative Writing major.  I remember that these sort of descriptions were frowned upon in workshop, i.e. descriptions that made no sense.  For example, can you taste sunshine?  I can’t but there are several awful descriptions that state things about how people taste like sunshine.  Also there are some weird similes and descriptions used during sex.  Take it for what it’s worth.

Best Feature: It’s over.  I really think this is it.  She could quite possibly make another book, a companion to this turd of a book in Gabriel or Molly’s POV but I doubt it since her self insert character  wouldn’t be the star of the show.  Plus, Bethie and Xavier are living bland and happily ever after.  Though I do wonder what will happen to Bethie after she….oh, who cares.

Worst Feature: I don’t know?  Really, I don’t.  The whole book is a train wreck.  If I had to pinpoint the one thing that bothered me about this installment. I’d probably say the lack of continuity.  Because it showed just how much disrespect Adornetto and Feiwel and Friends had for their readers.  Look, I get that the publishing industry is a very time oriented industry.  But would it really take that long to copy edit this book?  I was merely skimming a good chunk of this one and I was able to pick up on numerous continuity mistakes.  These sort of things shouldn’t be happening.  She has an entire team of people to back her and it’s not like this is her first book to be published.  Furthermore, a lot of the mistakes I saw were very easy to spot.  There’s really no excuse.  None at all.

Appropriateness: Um, no.  There is some cussing here, some violence, oh and there’s even some sex.  Weird sex.  Not like Fifty Shades of Grey weird but really bad use of metaphors sex.  Oh, and they don’t use protection and claim they don’t need to.  Which really makes no sense to anyone who actually paid attention to sex ed.  However, the worst thing about this book is the way it objectifies relationships, women, and people whose don’t have WASP beliefs. Look, I get it.  I was hoping that by this point in her writing career and life Adornetto would realize some things about the real world.  However, three years is not enough for the girl to realize that: 1) Codependent relationships are not healthy, 2) A wife is not a man’s responsibility when she gets married she’s still an individual who is just in a relationship with another human being, and 3) Just because a person’s beliefs are different than yours that doesn’t mean they’re going to hell.

Casting: We’ve done this song and dance before.  No I don’t think it should be made into a film, but here’s who I’d cast.

Overall Rating: One out of ten wings.  Hey, at least it got a one.  I don’t think I gave Hades anything.  This book was bad, but in comparison to it’s predecessor it wasn’t quite as bad.  That doesn’t mean Adornetto’s writing improved or anything.  Mostly it was because you can’t get any worse than Hades.